Imagine your next dinner party... what does it look like? Are you slaving in the kitchen while your guests mingle? Does one of them come in every once in awhile to awkwardly offer help? Do you spend most of the evening trying to follow directions for a recipe you printed off the Internet instead of having fun with your friends? Don't let this be you: this summer, make things easy on yourself by making homemade marinated goat cheese ahead of time. Plop them on a bed of fresh farmers market greens with a sliced tomato, and your appetizer is ready in mere seconds.
It's important to pick a goat cheese that will benefit from marinating. We've started getting our hands on some of those delicious soft-rind French-style goat cheeses like Chabichou, but this is not the sort of cheese that you want to marinate. Pick a soft goat cheese, either small and individually sized, like these discs from Coach Farm, or a log that you can cut into rounds, which you can find in most organic markets. These softer cheeses will best absorb the flavors of the marinade.
The marinade ingredients can vary based on your personal tastes. Any combination of ingredients can be used, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- sundried tomato and dried basil
- peppercorns and dried thyme
- cayenne pepper and roasted garlic
- herbes de provence
- cumin and coriander
There are two methods for making the marinade:
The Quick Method involves simply combining your ingredients -- herbs, spices and olive oil -- and then pouring them over the goat cheese in a container or jar. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 2 weeks, and then serve. For 6 1-ounce rounds of cheese, you'll need about a half-cup of olive oil (or more if your jar is very wide -- the oil must completely cover the cheeses), as well as about a teaspoon of each dried herb or spice you're using. Things like roasted garlic and sundried tomatoes should be finely chopped before adding to the mixture, to better distribute their flavors, and be sure to crush any whole spices you're using before adding them to the oil.
The Slow Method infuses the olive oil before adding it to the cheese. This extra step works very well for combinations including spices, like cayenne pepper or cumin. Simply heat the oil over low heat and add the spices. Watch the oil closely to prevent burning; keep it over low heat for about five minutes, then turn off and cover. Allow to sit for two hours; the oil will then be infused, and you can either strain off the spices or keep them in the marinade to add even more flavor. When using an infused oil, be sure to allow it to cool fully before adding it to the cheese.
Serve your homemade goat cheese on salads, like our Roasted Beet Salad. If you don't have any time to marinate goat cheese, you can still make our Fresh Herbed Goat Cheese to dress up dinner party salads or as a spread for hors d'oeuvres!